Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. (Though that’s less a hard and fast rule than it used to be.) Still, when it comes to covering this stuff, I rely on film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson, who spends all year waiting for Comic-Con to kick off. He brilliantly covered last year’s convention for DHD. So here’s his preview of the 2009 Con with emphasis on all things Hollywood:

Plan as you will, plot as you might, it is a given that you will not get to do every single thing at Comic-Con that sounds cool at the 1/2-mile long San Diego Convention Center 3 stories tall. Assuming that you who read a website with the word “Hollywood” in the title have certain interests that preclude others, I have attempted to winnow down the day-by-day schedule and present a list of programs worth attending. Universal isn’t doing the Con (“Just a general matter of having the right movies for the event at the right state of preparedness to go.”), but plenty of studios and networks are. All scheduling is subject to change, but this is the latest available info.

WEDNESDAY, July 22 – PREVIEW NIGHT
Sure, there are advance screenings of TV pilots happening during the three-hour preview period of 6-9, but those can wait till fall when you’ll see ‘em for free anyhow. Besides, one is written by SCREAM scribe Kevin Williamson, which most likely means it’ll be tediously self-referential. No, today you should check out the convention hall, trying to decide whether or not you can live without Mattel’s exclusive figures of the Superfriends’ Wonder Twins and their pet monkey, or the first ever movie-accurate toy of Harold Ramis from Ghostbusters. There’ll probably be some cool movie props to gawk at, too – previous reveals have included Optimus Prime and the Watchmen Owl-Ship (“Archie” to fans).

THURSDAY, July 23 – THE FUN BEGINS
Masters of the Web
(Room 32 AB, 10:00-11:00 AM)
A bunch of bloggers from other sites will talk about themselves for an hour, because it’s not like they do that any other time. SUPERMAN RETURNS costars Brandon Routh and Sam Huntington will be on hand. If you’re one of the few who’ll still admit to liking that movie (like me), maybe they’ll sign your DVD.

Summit Entertainment: ASTRO BOY
(Room 6BCF 10:15-11:15 AM)
Never really got into ASTRO BOY myself, but the cute big-eyed robot boy from numerous Japanese comics and anime is getting a big CG-animated movie this fall, voiced by CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY’s Freddie Highmore, who’ll be on hand along with costar Kristen Bell (who will undoubtedly have to answer repeated questions about the Slave Leia costume she wore in FANBOYS).

Disney: 3-D Panel
(Hall H, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM)
Robert Zemeckis. Tim Burton. Patton Oswalt. Need I say more? Okay, how about this: it’ll be the first ever Comic-Con panel to show advance footage in 3-D. Granted, handing out the glasses to everyone may turn into a logistical nightmare, but the payoff should be worth it. Oswalt will be the moderator for Q&A with the directors of the Jim Carrey motion-capture CHRISTMAS CAROL, the uber-disturbing, all-grown-up ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the long-anticipated, stupidly named sequel TR2N.

Hasbro: G.I. JOE
(Room 7AB, 11:30 AM-12:30 PM)
The toymakers behind the popular figures will desperately try to convince you that the upcoming movie isn’t going to suck, probably by pointing out that Marlon Wayans was in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM as well as many awful comedies. The toys are still pretty cool, though. However bad or good the movie is, fanboys will buy a mini-Sienna Miller in leather no matter what

QUANTUM QUEST: A CASSINI SPACE ODYSSEY
(Ballroom 20, 12:00 -1:00 PM)
Remember when conspiracy theorists thought that the plutonium-powered Cassini space probe might blow up at launch, scattering its nuclear fuel across the globe and rendering it uninhabitable? No? Good for you; I had nightmares. Anyway, that didn’t happen, but apparently an awesome 3-D IMAX movie is one of the by-products of the probe’s deep-space journey. Check out a non-3D, non-IMAX preview of it right here.

Hasbro: TRANSFORMERS 2
(Room 7AB, 12:30-1:30 PM)
All we really want to know is if Hasbro will make lifelike toys of Megan Fox and Isabel Lucas. But chances are the company will just talk about new robot toys.

3-D: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, THE HOLE, THE FINAL DESTINATION
(Hall H, 12:45-1:30 PM)
The first-ever 3-D panel is rapidly succeeded by the 2nd ever, with Joe Dante in attendance to promote his thriller THE HOLE, and producer Craig Perry for the horror sequel THE FINAL DESTINATION (aka FINAL DESTINATION 4, but no-one likes to admit to being a “Part 4” these days). The kiddie cartoon CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS would appear to appeal to a totally different demographic – a comedy about food falling from the sky may amuse the kids, but the other two clips stand a good chance of being inappropriate. Not to mention the fact that noone over the age of 5 isn’t already sick and tired of the MEATBALLS trailer.

Spotlight on Kevin Eastman
(Room 5AB, 1:00-2:00 PM)
The TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES co-creator will undoubtedly talk Turtle (a new live-action film is reportedly in the works), as well as a couple of animated features entitled UNDERWHERE (yuck-yuck!) and WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH. Oh, and there’s that newly announced HEAVY METAL sequel produced by two gents you may have heard of : David Fincher and James Cameron. Let’s just hope it’s the badasses Fincher and Cameron of yore, and not the BENJAMIN BUTTON/TITANIC saps.

TETSUO for the 21st Century
(Room 32AB, 1:00-2:00 PM)
TETSUO: THE IRON MAN blew away those who saw it back in the days of VHS when extreme Japanese cyberpunk rarely made it to these shores on a widespread basis. TETSUO 2: BODY HAMMER got a bit more notice, and now the third installment is being readied, presumably with more S&M man-machine combos. Filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto will discuss, and show some new stuff.

Wonder Women: Female Power Icons in Pop Culture
(Ballroom 20, 1:15-2:15 PM)
Sigourney Weaver, LOST’s Elizabeth Mitchell, and new STAR TREK hottie Zoe Saldana will apparently discuss “women who kick ass.” Technically, Uhura didn’t actually kick much ass in the new STAR TREK, but apparently she will in James Cameron’s AVATAR.

Summit Entertainment
(Hall H, 1:45-2:45 PM)
In case you miss the first ASTRO BOY panel, they’ll be showing some of that stuff again. Also some thriller called SORORITY ROW. But really, this whole panel is about THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON. In other words, if you have any testosterone in your body, you’ll probably skip this one. But if you like your werewolves to turn into smooth-skinned metrosexuals, you are in the right place. Summit isn’t saying yet which cast members will attend, but if they know what’s good for them they’ll trot out some of the dudes for the ladies to scream over.

Sony Pictures Animation: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
(Room 6BCF, 2:00-3:00 PM)
Okay, Sony, if you were gonna do this anyway, why screw up the 3-D horror panel earlier? Jeez. Oh wait – the voice cast includes Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Bill Hader, Anna Faris, and Andy Samberg…and those last three will be attending in person. Regardless of how bad the movie looks, that’s a triptych worth your time.

USA Network’s BURN NOTICE
(Ballroom 20, 2:30-3:30 PM)
Bruce Campbell! Bruce Campbell! Bruce Campbell! Bruce Campbell! Do we really expect any actual questions about BURN NOTICE. Isn’t this yet another opportunity for every horror nerd on earth to ask when a 4th EVIL DEAD is coming out?

ROBOT CHICKEN with TITAN MAXIMUM
(Room 6A, 3:00-4:00 PM)
Seth Green attained every geek’s fantasy when he somehow managed to parlay his playing with action figures into a popular TV show. Maybe at this panel you can find out how he pulled it off.

20th Century Fox and James Cameron present AVATAR
(Hall H, 3:00-4:15 PM)
The third-ever 3-D panel at Comic-Con – or is it the fourth? (It’s unclear whether that separate CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS) actually counts.) Regardless, this is probably the most anticipated event of the show, as the movie which James Cameron has been talking about making for 10 years or so finally approaches release. Anticipating a long-awaited sci-fi project from a filmmaker who hasn’t actually directed in years because the technology wasn’t right can be a dangerous thing. We all remember THE PHANTOM MENACE, I trust. And yet there isn’t a sci-fi or movie geek alive that isn’t at least slightly curious about the film being promoted as “reinventing the moviegoing experience”. So get in line early. Go to one of the prior panels and stay. Yes, that means sitting through TWILIGHT. You can do it. Have faith.

THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS
(Hall H, 4:30-5:15 PM)
Terry Gilliam returns to fantasy filmmaking with this epic about a traveling carnival that can reveal the innermost fantasies of all who dare enter. You’ve likely heard that it features Heath Ledger’s final performance; however, the cast also includes Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law, Christopher Plummer, and Tom Waits. Gilliam will be attending; no word on any cast, but we trust the sole American MONTY PYTHON member knows how to entertain you.

Overture Films: Pandorum
(Hall H, 5:15-5:45 PM)
Some kind of sci-fi horror movie from the producers of RESIDENT EVIL that sounds more or less just like RESIDENT EVIL director Paul W.S. Anderson’s EVENT HORIZON. Probably skippable, but possibly awesome. Stars Ben Foster, who’s usually pretty good.

KICK-ASS
(Hall H, 5:45-6:30 PM)
The last time Nicolas Cage was promoting a comic-book movie at Comic-Con, it was GHOST RIDER, and he was clearly stoned out of his mind. It was all kinds of hilarious. Fingers crossed that he’ll be wasted again to promote this upcoming comic-based actioner about kids who dress up as ultra-violent superheroes. Also in this movie? McLovin’.

Unlocking Arkham: Forensic Psychiatry and BATMAN’s Rogues Gallery
(Room 4, 6:30-7:30 PM)
Three actual psychiatrists analyze the minds of fictional Bat-foes like the Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, and more. A supremely geeky idea for a panel that won’t break any industry news, but could be a whole lot of fun nonetheless.

Focus Features: THIRST
(Hall H, 6:30-7:00 PM)
Okay, TWILIGHT kids, this is what real vampires look like. Korean director Park Chan-wook, acclaimed for the supremely twisted OLDBOY and SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, goes into all-out horror with his new flick about a priest who volunteers for a blood transfusion that is sufficiently contaminated to turn him into a pleasure-seeking blood-sucker. There are already clips online, so there may not be a lot of new stuff to see prior to the actual release July 31st, but this is a rare appearance by Park in front of a throng of people who are actually likely to know and love his work.

Green Lantern: First Flight World Premiere
(Ballroom 20, 8:00-9:30 PM)
Before Ryan Reynolds puts on the power ring for the live-action movie, check out the latest animated rendition, in which Hal Jordan is voiced by Christopher Meloni.

Halloween Comes Early: TRICK ‘R TREAT Screening
(Ballroom 20, 9:30PM-12:00 AM)
Long delayed for no obvious reason, Michael Dougherty’s horror-anthology film, featuring a pint-sized “spirit of Halloween” named Sam who wreaks havoc on those that fail to respect the holiday, is finally set to be released…direct to DVD in October. It deserves better. And while it may be debatable whether “better” involves a DVD projector in a room with throngs of loud audience members, as opposed to a hi-def Blu-ray viewing at home come fall, the choice is yours. See it early and for free here if you like. And yes, it’s pretty good.

FRIDAY, July 24 – “STAR WARS DAY”

Warner Bros
(Hall H, 10:00 AM-12:30 PM)
No special guests have been confirmed as of yet, but films being previewed include Spike Jonze’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (one of my most anticipated films of the year), THE BOOK OF ELI, Richard Kelly’s THE BOX, the Josh Brolin-starring, comic-based dark western JONAH HEX, Guy Ritchie’s SHERLOCK HOLMES, and the remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET starring Jackie Earle Haley as the new Freddy Krueger.

CORALINE
(Room 6A, 10:30-11:30 AM)
Did you love Henry Selick’s 3-D stop-motion movie? Want to celebrate the DVD release? It’s hard to imagine there’s much left to say about the movie, but Selick and writer Neil Gaiman have devoted followings, so why not. All the cool goth chicks should be there.

STARGATE UNIVERSE
(Ballroom 20, 10:30-11:30 AM)
STARGATE the TV series has never been all that interesting, but this new spinoff has TRAINSPOTTING/FULL MONTY star Robert Carlyle and E.R.’s Ming-Na among the leads, so count me curious. Both should be showing up.

Mattel and DC Comics: A Heroic Partnership
(Room 2, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM)
Toy collectors have been both enamored and frustrated with Mattel’s line of DC superhero figures. Enamored because so many characters have been made and designed; frustrated that they tend to be hard to find, and occasionally poorly made. Expect both the love and the hate to show at this panel.

STAR WARS Day: THE CLONE WARS: Building the Universe
(Room 7AB, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM)
Does anybody still care about this STAR WARS cartoon, with its wooden animation and foregone conclusion of an ending? If so, here you go.

AMC: THE PRISONER
(Room 6BCF, 11:30 AM-12:30 PM)
The short lived ‘60s cult hit gets a resurrection with the help of Jesus, aka Jim Caviezel, who’ll play a new secret agent trapped in a mysterious village where everyone is referred to by number rather than name. Shot in South Africa, the new 6-part miniseries can’t be as surreal as the original. Or can it? Show up and find out, maybe.

SPARTACUS: Blood and Sand
(Room 6BCF, 12:45-1:45 PM)
Xena meets 300 in this new TV series from Sam Raimi cohort Rob Tapert and warrior princess Lucy Lawless. Virtual environments are a touted feature of this upcoming Starz! show, which centers on the famous Roman gladiator.

Robert Rodriguez
(Room 6DE)
Last year, he announced a RED SONJA movie and a GRINDHOUSE DVD. Neither has materialized. But he did make a kids’ movie called SHORTS, and that is ostensibly what he’s promoting here. Fanboys, y’all need to grill him on the other stuff, and SIN CITY 2, while you’re at it.

24
(Ballroom 20, 2:15-3:00 PM)
It anticipated our first black president, excessive use of torture in the pursuit of justice, and made the “ticking timebomb scenario” part of the national dialogue. Watching 24 might just help you predict the fate of the world in the next few years. Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and new cast member direct from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Katee Sackhoff will do their best to speak to these and other pressing issues, no doubt.

Focus Features: 9
(Hall H, 2:30-3:30 PM)
Not the Rob Marshall musical (that’d be the fully spelled out NINE), this is the animated film about sock-puppet-like beings fleeing evil robots in a post-apocalyptic world – they’re calling it “stitchpunk.” Director Shane Acker and producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekhmambetov (WANTED) will be in the house, as will voice actors Jennifer Connelly and Elijah Wood, the latter of whom will undoubtedly be asked questions relating to that other big fantasy movie series he did a while back. So maybe we’ll find out if Frodo really was gay.

Sony Pictures Entertainment: LEGION and DISTRICT 9
(Hall H, 3:45-5:00 PM)
And speaking of Frodo…his director, Peter Jackson, finally makes it to Comic-Con for the first time in his capacity as producer for the sci-fi racism-metaphor flick DISTRICT 9, directed by Jackson protégé Neil Blomkamp. (Otherwise known as “the guy who nearly made the HALO movie until the studio decided that an unknown shouldn’t be given a $200 million movie”.) After this, he won’t be unknown… so ask him about HALO again. Piggybacking on the PJ coattails will be a panel on the movie LEGION, which involves strangers trapped in a desert diner right when the angels in Heaven decide to declare war on Earth. Sounds a lot like the old Christopher Walken movie THE PROPHECY, dunnit? Paul Bettany stars as the Archangel Michael.

DOLLHOUSE
(Ballroom 20, 4:00-5:15 PM)
I can’t stand Joss Whedon’s pretentious, unrealistic dialogue, but this is apparently a minority view. Big fan of Eliza Dushku, though. So I’m torn whether or not to attend this panel about their show together. You probably won’t be. After they’re done talking dollhouse, Whedon’s gonna hang around for another 45 minutes. Be still my heart.

THE MIGHTY BOOSH
(Room 6A, 4:45-5:45 PM)
I tend to be a little behindhand on cult comedy stuff; took a while to cotton to THE OFFICE, Ali G, and Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright. But this is apparently the next big thing, so check it out. If you want.

Lucasfilm: STAR WARS Spectacular
(Hall H, 5:15-6:15 PM)
If there is any STAR WARS news to be had, it’ll be here. But the panel will be broadcast on G4, so no need to wait in line to actually get in if you’re tired. All we really want to know is whether the long-teased live-action series is a go yet. My guess? Yet another year of no news on that front.

Shocker Toys Happy Hour Panel
(Room 4, 6:30-7:30 PM)
In the action figure collecting community, Shocker Toys have always been something of a running joke, from their initial announcement of crappy-looking toys that sit on your shoulder to an endless series of delays for other licenses. Yet this year, they actually managed to put out a few figures people liked. Will they gloat? Highly likely. Controversial president Geoff Beckett never misses a chance to get into it with his critics.

FEAR Clinic
(Room 5 AB, 6:30-7:30 PM)
You don’t have to be particularly interested in FEARnet’s original webisodes to appreciate the fact that Clive Barker will be interviewing Robert Englund at this panel. No doubt his reaction on the Freddy Krueger remake will be sought.

The Visionaries
(Hall H, 6:30-7:30 PM)
Just in case you miss the previous panels with James Cameron and Peter Jackson, here they are again.

Worst Cartoons Ever
(Room 6 BCF, 9:00-10:00 PM)
I can’t describe this any better than the actual program: “Animation historian Jerry Beck (Cartoon Brew) returns with an all new program of some of the worst cartoons ever made, including the Phys Ed super-hero Mighty Mr. Titan, space cadet Johnny Cypher and that crimefighting commander-in-chief, Super President. Have a ball with the best/bad animation ever!”

Spike and Mike Double Feature
(Room 6BCF, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM)
It’s not just sick and twisted stuff this time – animation festival curator Spike will be showcasing all kinds of independent animated shorts from around the world. But fear not, fanatics of the foul: starting around 11:15, he will get into the familiar gross-out territory.

SATURDAY, July 25 – THE LONGEST DAY

The Black Panel
(Room 5AB, 10:00-11:30 AM)
It sounds like a Chris Rock SNL joke – THE MAN only allots one panel for black people? But it oughta be a good one, with Michael Jai White promoting his new movie BLACK DYNAMITE, Reggie Hudlin and Denys Cowan talking up the Black Panther animated series, and Kel Mitchell, Ludacris, and Wu-Tang’s Prodigal Sunn talking up their various forthcoming ventures. Surprise guests are also promised – anyone know where Comic-Con favorite Samuel L. Jackson is supposed to be that day?

TwiFic FanGroup
(Room 24A, 10:00-11:00 AM)
Some of “the most popular writers in Fan Fic” are promised. I know what you’re thinking: there are popular writers of fan fiction? Yes. Standard issue nerds need to have an even nerdier group to pick on, after all.

EASTWICK Pilot Screening and Q&A
(Room 6A, 10:15-11:15 AM)
Of all the movies to be turned into TV shows…THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK? And starring Rebecca Romijn, no less. It airs this fall on ABC, with – I’m guessing – substantially less cherry vomit than its predecessor.

Comic Arts Conference Session #9: Is the Joker a Psychopath? You Decide!
(Room 30AB, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM)
If the panel devoted to psychiatrists analyzing Batman’s entire rogue’s gallery wasn’t in-depth enough for you, here’s a whole hour and a half with psychology professors AND comic book writers debating whether or not the Joker fits the classical definition of a psychopath, whatever that means. An hour and a half? Really?

LOST
(Hall H, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM)
Remember how, at last year’s LOST panel, we basically got the heads-up that the following season would be about time travel? Heading into the final season, this will be the last chance to try and glean any hints of upcoming revelations from Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, not to mention enjoying the tradition of receiving really random free gifts in exchange for asking questions.

FAMILY GUY
(Ballroom 20, 11:15 AM-12:00 PM)
I don’t particularly care for FAMILY GUY, and it’s happening opposite the LOST panel, so whatever. But I did like the STAR WARS parody episode — and it seems they’ve got one coming up based on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK — so that could be fun. I guess.

FUTURAMA: Life or Death?
(Ballroom 20, 1:00-1:45 PM)
Matt Groening and the principal voice cast will apparently confront a Fox executive live onstage to make the decision as to whether or not their awesome sci-fi cartoon will be renewed or not. Spoiler: The decision has already been made; I won’t reveal it here, but a Google search will. Nonetheless, the program promises, in true William Castle style, that paramedics will be standing by to assist those who collapse in either despair or joy.

Bram Stoker: The Joss Whedon of His Day?
(Room 5AB, 1:30-2:30 PM)
Let me just save you an hour – the answer is “no.” Stoker’s dialogue was believable.

Miramax: EXTRACT
(Hall H, 1:30-2:30 PM)
After OFFICE SPACE was mis-promoted and IDIOCRACY dumped, it’s nice to see Mike Judge’s latest film get the full-on Comic-Con rollout treatment. Judge, Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Wiig lead what is sure to be a pretty damn funny panel, regardless of how the actual movie is.

June Foray
(Room 5AB, 2:30-3:30 PM)
One of the coolest things about Comic-Con for long-time genre fans is that many of the old veterans show up, and because most of the crowds are anxious to see the new thing, the old pros are totally accessible. Foray, of course, is best known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the old Bullwinkle cartoons. We’ll forgive her the live-action movie.

V Pilot Screening
(Ballroom 20, 2:45-3:45 PM)
LOST’s Elizabeth Mitchell, PARTY OF FIVE’s Scott Wolf, and perennial star of sucky movies Morris Chestnut, all appear in this remake of the ‘80s TV series about seemingly benevolent humanoid aliens who turn out to be mammal-eating reptiles underneath. All three of the aforementioned actors will take your questions afterwards. My prediction? At least one person will say, “Elizabeth, you da bomb in GIA, yo!”

Sony: ZOMBIELAND and 2012
(Hall H, 2:45-3:45 PM)
In one of these new movies, Woody Harrelson is all that stands between us and the zombie hordes who have taken over the world. In another, John Cusack has to save us from the apocalypse. Which prospect scares you more? Cusack isn’t scheduled to attend, though his director, Roland Emmerich, master of disaster movies that go on way too long and have boring characters, will be there. For ZOMBIELAND, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, director Ruben Fletcher, and the Woodman himself are onhand. Am I the only one getting flashbacks to Matthew McConaughey in REIGN OF FIRE? Hell, anyone else actually remember REIGN OF FIRE?

Ray Bradbury
(Room 6BCF, 3:30-4:30 PM)
Another great genre veteran, still going strong on multiple projects. Go see him while you still can.

THE BOONDOCK SAINTS II
(Room 6DE, 3:30-4:30 PM)
Really? This is actually happening? The original movie barely got a theatrical release, and the documentary OVERNIGHT revealed why – success went instantly to director Troy Duffy’s head, and he vastly overrated his own importance, ultimately pissing off Harvey Weinstein and getting effectively blacklisted in Hollywood. Yet BOONDOCK SAINTS merchandise continues to sell apace at Hot Topic, action figures are due this fall, and it seems there is finally a part two, with a trailer that will premiere here. Join Duffy along with stars Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly, Clifton Collins Jr., and Julie Benz. But who is distributing?

IRON MAN 2
(Hall H, 4:00-5:00 PM)
You might have heard of the first one. No official word on who will be the special guests at this panel, but probably some combination of Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and if she’s feeling up to entering the metaphorical lion’s den, Scarlett Johansson.

Kevin Smith
(Hall H, 5:15-6:15 PM)
Love his movies or hate them (and I do both, depending on which movie we’re talking about), America’s most famous comic book geek is always a hilarious public speaker, whether he has anything to plug or not. And right now, not. (But next year he’ll have a movie with Bruce Willis called A COUPLE OF DICKS. Pass it on.)

American Original
(Room 7AB, 5:30-6:30 PM)
Comic-book writer and movie producer Jeff Katz quit Fox at arguably the height of his success (overseeing the WOLVERINE movie) to start a brand new multiplatform company with Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins that will encompass comics, movies, TV, online, and “sports-entertainment” (that means pro-wrestling, y’all). They haven’t officially announced any properties yet, but will do so here, with several surprise guests associated with said properties.

Black Dynamite
(Room 5AB, 6:30-7:30 PM)
Oh good, THE MAN did allow another black panel after all. Michael Jai White and writer-director Scott Sanders will preview their upcoming blacksploitation homage, in a discussion moderated by – who else? – Elvis Mitchell.

The Roast of Lloyd Kaufman
(Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton, 6:30-8:00 PM)
The affable goofball auteur behind Troma Films gets affectionately ripped a new one by various celebrities who have known and worked with him over the years. And if you’ve seen even a fraction of Troma’s output over the years, you know there’s plenty of material to nail him on! Roasters include Adam Green, Ron Jeremy, Stan Lee, Terry Jones, Brian Pulido, Mick Garris, Penelope Spheeris, and more! Also, chances are Comedy Central won’t be airing this one.

WATCHMEN Director’s Cut BD-Live!
(Room 6BCF, 8:30 PM-12:15 AM)
Zack Snyder screens the Blu-ray of his newer, longer, more comic-accurate adaptation, while delivering a live director’s commentary, pointing out all the painstakingly tiny details that went into the making of the movie. Even if you weren’t totally sold on the film, this may give you a new appreciation, as well as finally giving fans a true alternative to…

The San Diego Comic-Con International Masquerade
(Ballroom 20, 8:45-11:45 PM)
Fans compete for cash and prizes with their own handmade costumes, some amazingly elaborate, some terribly cheesy. One year I live-blogged the whole thing and hurt a whole lot of feelings with relatively mild comments, like pointing out that this one girl was way too fat to be dressed as the Tilda Swinton White Witch of Narnia. (Well, she WAS! You don’t see me painting myself green and going as the Hulk, do you?). Touchy folks, those costumers. Anyway, if you can’t get into the ballroom, you can usually watch on a big-screen TV in the Sails Pavilion with free nachos and the only alcoholic beverages served at the convention center the whole weekend. Plus, a DJ will annoyingly play loud music to totally drown out the broadcast.

SUNDAY, JULY 26 – KIDS DAY

DOCTOR WHO
(Ballroom 20, 10-11:00 AM)
Soon-to-be-departing star David Tennant and producer Russell T. Davies are among the guests for this presentation on the longest-running sci-fi series on TV (it began in 1963!). Exclusive clips from the upcoming season are promised, which will end with Tennant’s Doctor “dying” and regenerating into some younger dude. Whatever happened to the original concept of the Doctor as a crazy old man who’s secretly smart? A sex symbol, he should not be. I’m dating myself here

Christian Comics Meeting
(Room 24A, 10-11:00 AM)
Every year, I mention being morbidly curious about this panel. Every year, I chicken out of actually going, possibly because it involves prayer and “worship music.” But I would like to know more about how exactly Christian comics work – are they all Bible stories or what? Somebody else go, and report back to me. Thanks.

The Art of Adapting Comics to the Screen
(Room 5AB, 10:30-11:30 AM)
David Hayter (WATCHMAN) and Josh Olson (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) discuss turning critically acclaimed comics into critically acclaimed movies. Just on the highly unlikely off-chance that any of you in the audience will ever be in a position to put their advice into practice.

SCOOBY-DOO! THE MYSTERY BEGINS
(Room 6DE. 12:30-2:30 PM)
Just what the world needs: a direct-to-cable prequel to the live-action SCOOBY-DOO movies, with none of the original cast returning, from the director of BEETHOVEN and SNOW DOGS (somebody tell him the dog here is CGI – he might not know).

Overture Pictures: PAPER HEART
(Ballroom 20, 12:30-1:00 PM)
Guys, Comic-Con doesn’t work for just any movie. It has to be somewhat related to the subject at hand. So who knows why Overture thinks there’ll be a massive audience here for their faux-documentary in which the scarily underage-looking comedienne Charlyne Yi sets out to study the phenomenon of love only to fall for comic actor Michael Cera. Sorry, TWILIGHT girls – Cera isn’t even scheduled to be there. But Yi is. Much like all the promotion of HAMLET 2 at last year’s Con, this smells like a waste of the studio’s money from a mile away. Oh, and guys? The movie is a fake-doc, so it doesn’t necessarily prove that Yi actually falls for awkward dorks and/or the dudes who play them onscreen.

Starship Smackdown XIII: Ultimate Edition
(Room 7AB, 3:00-4:30 PM)
A panel of hardcore geeks debates “who would win?” in various contests pitting fictional spaceships against each other. Usually hilarious, and a great way to wind down the Con.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.